An offseason glance at the Jets
Posted Apr. 03 at 09:31 AM
I’m looking at the Titans today. Not the Tennessee Titans, but the original Titans – the New York Jets (who entered the AFL as the New York Titans back in 1960). A few thoughts on this franchise:
Free agent pickups Alan Faneca and Damien Woody are going to help. The Jets scored only 21 offensive touchdowns last year, next-to-last. But they actually weren’t that bad. The team, for example, actually had more red zone possession than in the previous year, when the team went to the playoffs and scored 11 more touchdowns. And only five teams ran more plays inside the 10 last year. (The Jets just didn’t do enough with those plays, scoring on only 14 of 80 of them, the worst percentage in the league).
Faneca is 35 years old and in decline, and Woody is just a serviceable right tackle, but they’ll help this unit. And maybe their additions will help the line’s two third-year guys, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. If the offensive line comes around and develops into a top-10 unit – which I think is possible – than the Jets might score about a touchdown more per game and rebound back into the playoffs.
Thomas Jones will be selected too late in most fantasy drafts. He’ll be 30 in August. He’s coming off a crappy year. Of the 22 guys who carried the ball 200-plus times last year, only three had lower yards-per-carry average’s than Jones’ 3.6, and none of those three will be back with their teams – DeShaun Foster, Warrick Dunn, Shaun Alexander. And as I mentioned a few days back, only the other Jones brother (Julius) managed to start all 16 games last year and score only 2 TDs.
But I think Jones (Thomas Jones, that is), will rebound nicely.
The offensive line will help him. He’ll be healthier entering the season. He’s a decent receiver. And he’ll have a lot more success around the goal line. Jones, believe it or not, had 29 rushing attempts inside the 10 last year, 4th-most in the league. I expect a lot more of those carries to turn into touchdowns this year. This offense ran for 15 TDs a year back.
At quarterback, the Jets must choose between Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens. Clemens has the much stronger arm and is seven years younger, but Pennington knows a lot more about running an NFL offense – he knows how to read defenses and where to go with the football.
Pennington, believe it or not, actually completed 69 percent of his passes last year. Had he completed one more pass, he would have finished ahead of Tom Brady and led the league in this category. Clemens, on the other hand, was down at 52 percent. Had two of his completions fallen incomplete, he would have finished last behind Trent Dilfer. (And here, I’m looking at just the 35 quarterbacks who attempted 200 or more passes).
I think Pennington’s experience and smarts make him the better choice for the Jets, but Clemens’ better physical skills might tilt things in his favor. He’s a better downfield passer. I think it’s about 50-50 between these guys for opening day. Regardless of which guy is in the lineup, I see this team averaging about 215 passing yards per game, with 18 TD passes.
Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery will catch plenty of passes. I don’t consider either of these guys to be a dynamic receiver, but they will be heavily featured in this offense. They combined for 137 receptions last year, even though they combined to miss six games. Had they remained healthy, they would have been the league’s 4th-busiest tandem behind Moss-Welker, Houshmandzadeh-Johnson and Fitzgerald-Boldin.
Of the pair, Coles probably has more of stake in the quarterback competition, because he has a good rapport with Chad Pennington inside the red zone. All 6 TDs that Coles scored last year came when Pennington was in the lineup. Cotchery tends to do better with Clemens in the lineup, but the correlation isn’t as strong – about 13 yards per game last year. Probably both of these guys should be selected about 25 receivers into drafts.
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